Sunday, January 13, 2008

Meijer: Next in Line Up

In addtion to the comments posted on this blog, I have received many emails and personal comments about the Meijer/SST issue. As most of you are saying, it is interesting to watch.

Now we are told we'll have to wait two months for the results of a criminal investigation, as reported in the Grand Rapids Press.

This is what we know from media reports:

  • Meijer officials claim they didn't fully know what was happening and wouldn't condone it;
  • Meijer has its own attorney investigating what they did to see if they complied with or violated state law;
  • Seyferth says the firm is standing by its client, Meijer, and that is a form of good ethics;
  • Seyferth insists they did nothing unethical with regard to the recall campaign in Acme township.

    OK. But I have some questions, and I hope the answers emerge in two months when the probe is finished. They are:

  • If Meijer officials originally said they would not condone such behavior, is that not an admission of some guilt, criminal or otherwise?
  • Is Meijer's own attorney going to have the public interest in mind or merely seek to limit liability of his client when he reviews the case?
  • Does not the recently settled lawsuit, in which Meijer paid an Acme official a significant sum, serve as instructive precedent in the current matter regarding the legality of Meijer's actions?
  • Loyalty to a client is mentioned in the PRSA Code of Ethics, but is that reallly the issue here? DId not SST ADVISE Meijer on the matter in question? Meijer is on the hook for activities that were part of strategy planned jointly by Meijer and SST and executed by SST.
  • Is there going to be any definitive statement from SST--or the prosector---on whether or not Meijer and SST set up a front group in Acme Township, or short of that, spoke at public meetings without identifying themselves as representing the interests of Meijer?

    Another question: why is there nothing about this issue on Meijer's corporate Web site? So far as I know, there has been no judge's gag order. Do they not want to draw attention to the issue and hope everyone forgets? They have some interesting core values that are worth reading and considering given the allegations from Acme. The news releases are all about product and image, including one ironic headline: "No Secrets Here, Meijer Shouts Its Holiday Prices." (No secrets?)

    SST doesn't address this issue on their Web site either.
    (To their credit, they do have an interesting section on "What is PR" that looks like it came stright from APR study materials.)
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